Review: ‘Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel’ takes top spot on Netflix

Features Editor Breanna Hill provides a review of the Netflix original "Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel." (Courtesy of Daily Express)Features Editor Breanna Hill provides a review of the Netflix original "Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel." (Courtesy of Daily Express)

Breanna Hill, Features Editor

The Cecil Hotel is an infamous establishment settled in the heart of downtown Los Angeles known for a hub of horrific acts and haunting stories.

One of the most well-known of these haunting stories is the disappearance of 21 year-old Canadian traveler Elisa Lam, as illustrated through Netflix original “Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel.”

Elisa Lam was a university student, an active social media user, a mental health sufferer and someone who yearned for never-ending life experiences among other things. 

She used her social media accounts, specifically the popular platform Tumblr, to express her thoughts, beliefs, hopes and dreams. There are countless blog posts about her prominent desire to travel the world and experience as much as she possibly could throughout her lifetime. 

These endless amounts of posts have been connected repeatedly to her trip to Los Angeles, which would unfortunately be the last place she was seen alive. 

Elisa was traveling alone along the west coast of the United States and ended up in downtown Los Angeles as a temporary guest at the Cecil Hotel. 

Again, the Cecil Hotel is infamous because of the endless amount of tragedy taking place behind its doors. Several cases of suicide, murder and assault have taken place in the hotel, and it has also served as a place for prostitutes to gain business as well as a hub for drug purchasing and abuse. 

The hotel wasn’t noted as a safe hotel, in fact, it’s the complete opposite. It’s noted that the Night Stalker, later identified as Richard Ramirez, resided here as he carried out his killing spree throughout the Los Angeles area. 

This property also allowed tenants to continuously rent out rooms for however long needed. It was the perfect place because of the price and it appealed to those who were recently released from prison, had little to no money, or those who simply had no other choice. 

The case of Elisa Lam is one of the biggest head-scratching cases to occur in the U.S. Nearly everybody has seen the elevator video which captures Elisa Lam on the last night of her life. The elevator video has surfaced and resurfaced around the internet since it was published by the LAPD in efforts to crack the case. 

Elisa is acting strange and somewhat hallucinatory throughout the four minute video, and countless people have called into question the soundness of her mind during the video. The mysterious video is shown in its entirety throughout the documentary centered around the case, and it’ll send a shiver up the spine without a doubt. 

I didn’t know much about the case before watching the documentary. Of course I had seen the elevator video, it’s been shared hundreds, maybe even millions of times, on the various platforms. Even then, I remember finding her behavior very strange and unlike anything I had seen before. 

The documentary goes into great detail about the entire case. It concentrates on her time before traveling, her time in Los Angeles, and the discovery of her body in the water tank above the hotel. There are several sources sprinkled throughout the documentary including the general manager of the Cecil Hotel at the time of her disappearance, the suspicious metal artist accused of killing her, and several internet sleuths who felt connected when trying to solve her case. 

Alongside the actual evidence of the case in the documentary, the four part series includes reenactments of the entire story which only adds to the chilling effect that it gives. 

The story of the disappearance and eventual finding of Elisa’s dead body is not for the light of heart. It’s a very disturbing, mysterious story that is still being debated online to this day. I highly recommend not watching it at night because that’s what I did, and I found myself tossing and turning the entire night. 

The documentary is incredibly well produced and definitely sheds light on the Cecil Hotel and the very unfortunate passing of a young girl who just yearned to travel and have experiences. Watch with caution. 10/10.

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